Barcode Symbology

Different regions of the world – and different types of products – use their own unique barcode formats. Here's a rundown on the various types of barcodes you'll find around the world and on our site.

Universal Product Code

UPCDescription: The Universal Product Code is the standard format of barcode symbology in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries around the world. It consists of 12 digits along with vertical stripes, or "bars", which are easy to read by an optical scanner. A UPC is divided into "left"and "right" sections, with six digits in each section.

Barcode formats: UPC-A symbols consist of 11 data digits and one check digit – 12 digits in total. The first digit is a number system digit, which typically represents the product type; the next five digits are a manufacturer code; and the final five digits are the specific product's identifier. UPC-E is a shorter UPC code, consisting of seven digits, which is usually used for small retail items.

International Article Number

EANDescription: This barcode type's acronym comes from its original name of "European Article Number." It looks extremely similar to a UPC-A, with 12 vertical bars divided into "left"and "right" sections. It also includes a 13th digit out to the left, which is known as a "check digit".

Barcode formats: EAN13 is a 13-digit barcode, used to mark packages with an item number. EAN8 is a shorter, eight-digit code, used to mark small packages. Both types of EAN are mainly used outside North America.

International Standard Book Number

ISBNDescription: This type of barcode is used specifically to help retailers and libraries track books. Each new edition and variation of a book gets its very own ISBN.

Barcode formats: ISBN-10 is a 10-digit barcode for books printed before 2007. In an ISBN-10, the first two digits specify the book's group; the next five digits specify the publisher; the three digits after that specify the book's title. The final character of an ISBN-10 is known as a check digit. ISBN-13 is a 13-digit barcode for books printed on or after January 1, 2007. ISBN-13 digits serve largely the same functions as those of an ISBN-10, except that they're now also preceded by a three-digit Global Standards (GS1) number.

Global Trade Item Number

GTINDescription: This set of barcodes covers a wide variety of international formats – all developed by the Global Standards organization (GS1). Rather than a unique type of barcode format, these codes regulate the formatting and usage of barcodes in use throughout various regions of the world – including UPC, EAN, and others.

Barcode formats: GTIN-12 (UPC-A) is a 12-digit number, used mainly in North America. GTIN-8 (EAN/UCC-8) is an eight-digit number, mostly used outside of North America. GTIN-13 (EAN/UCC-13) is a 13-digit number mostly used outside North America, and, GTIN-14 (EAN/UCC-14 or ITF-14) is a 14-digit number that retailers use to identify trade items.